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Society

Greece’s Beach Takeover Report App Gets 500 Complaints in Two Weeks

ATHENS – It wasn’t reported if it led to any penalties, but a new mobile phone app that lets people report beaches being taken over by businesses got 500 complaints in its first two weeks, said the Ministry of Digital Governance.

It was set up to help identify businesses taking more than 50% of beach space allowed by state leases that lets them charge users for umbrellas and sunbeds, but in practice far more – including 100% – often occupied.

The ministry added that the MyCoast app has already been downloaded by 14,000 people who can use it to notify authorities about violations, including businesses taking over beaches without leases.

In 2023, a movement on some islands protesting the takeover of beaches – that’s unconstitutional as well but allowed by successive governments, the New Democracy administration courting even more – brought attention to the problem.

Using geolocation features, users can pinpoint the exact location of a suspected violation and the app gives precise details, including the designated location, lease duration, and the permitted coverage area outlined in the licensing agreement.

Complainants have the option to submit reports either under their name, using their Taxisnet username and password, or anonymously but so far there haven’t been any reports of punishment for violators.

While the government said it wants to curb unlawful occupation of beaches it has been luring luxury resorts that often sit on prime beaches while some businesses have even installed turnstiles to keep out non-paying users.

The ministry also plans to use an Artificial Intelligence program in collaboration with the University of the Aegean, that will incorporate satellites for overhead views of some 7,900 beaches across the country.

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